Sunset at Gowanus Bay

Sunset at Gowanus Bay
Sunset at Gowanus Bay, Henry Gritten, 1851

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Monmouth County, New Jersey Estate and Proceedings Indexes

Locating wills, estate files, probate and guardianship records in Monmouth County, New Jersey is not easy. Only a genius could come up with the cumbersome, convoluted and time consuming method of indexing that is used for Monmouth County estate records. The procedure involves first finding the individual you are targeting in the Estate Index, which then tells you where to find that individual in the Proceedings Index. The individual's entry in the Proceedings Index, then tells you where to find specific documents in the various books and dockets (Wills, Inventories, Minutes, etc.). Of course the Estate Index is not arranged in strict alphabetical order, but instead by that old time system which uses "key letters." On a positive note, these indexes are now online at In the past, using them required either ordering multiple films from the Family History Library, or making a visit in person to Monmouth County. After about a half hour of maneuvering around the online images I was able to locate the pages for those named BROWER, BREWER, BRUER, BRUERE.

And so, in order to save all those interested some time, here is a link to the very first page in the Proceedings Index for those individuals with the surname BROWER, BREWER, BRUER, BRUERE. The pages are in Volume 2 and run from page 65 (image 471) to page 77 (image 483). Each "block" contains the name of an individual and a list of documents regarding that individual and where those documents are located. Note that not all of the books or dockets containing the original documents have been placed online. As of this posting, those that are online for Monmouth County include Wills, Letters of Administrations, Minutes of the Orphans Court, and a few others.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Educating Yourself About DNA Testing

I've been involved with using DNA testing as an additional tool and resource in solving genealogy problems, and co-administrator of the Brewer DNA Project for nine or so years now. Back in the mid 2000 this was a new area for all of us, and it still is new for many coming to it for the first time. There was (and still is) a lot to learn. One of my observations has been that many, probably most people who order DNA tests, do so without having acquired much knowledge or understanding about what their tests will tell them, and how their results can be used. I'm left with wondering why anyone would invest the money in purchasing tests (they're not cheap) but not invest the time in understanding the concepts and results of what it is they're purchasing. With that, here are some links and recommendations for online material that will help those who wish to get a better understanding of DNA testing and how it might help with your genealogy research. Many of these links (along with others) are also found on this website's Genetic Genealogy Page. My hope is that placing them in a post will increase their exposure to those who are looking to learn more.

The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy and Genetic Genealogy in Practice, both by Blaine Bettinger, both published in late 2016. If you are new to DNA testing start here. If you've been involved with some testing, read them as well. There is some duplication between the two, but I recommend both. Start with the first. Here are online reviews for The Family Tree Guide..., and Genetic Genealogy...

A bare bones synopsis of the absolute basics of Genetic Genealogy in a short blog post by Emma Young on the Family Search blog. An Introduction to Genetic Genealogy.

What is a STR (Short Tandem Repeat)? How are they used in Genetic Genealogy?

What is a SNP (Single-Nucleotide Polymorphism)? A bit more on SNPs from ISOGG. And more on Y-SNP Testing from ISOGG. And while you are there, don't be shy about exploring the entire ISOGG website. There are a lot of links, sources and material for you to investigate whatever aspect of Genetic Genealogy interests you.

Here is an older paper (PDF) from 2008 by Blaine Bettinger, "Interpreting The Results of My Genetic Genealogy Test, Now What?"

Thinking About a BigY Test at Family Tree DNA?, Blaine Bettinger, August 1, 2017. Some background and some basics on how to use your Big-Y test results. NEW and very relevant for our current Big-Y Test participants.

BigY at the Family Tree DNA Learning Center. Basics on the test with FAQs and a link to the BigY white paper, "Introduction to the BigY," from 2014. And a video on YouTube from FTDNA titled, "Getting to Know Your Big-Y Results."

How Y-DNA Can Help Your One Name Study Project, video by Maurice Gleason.

Some background on the YFull service from the Cruwys News website.

Family Tree DNA's Book and Video recommendations. This page may be a little dated and the two books by Blaine Bettinger mentioned above, and not on this list, is the place to start, but there may be specific topics of individual interest here to some. For those who want to take all of this even further here is FTDNA's Library of Scientific Papers.

This is just a start, and perhaps in time as new sites or sources appear I'll add them to this post. I also invite anyone who has recommendations (books, websites, videos) of their own to use the Comments option for the post as a vehicle to share them with others. And here is something I was told many years ago - Pick a subject, any subject, and spend one hour a day reading and learning about it. In one year you'll be an expert on that subject. I'll add to that something a bit more specific - what you get out of your investment in your DNA testing is going to correlate directly to just how much effort you put into learning about it.

Our Big Tree. Black Walnut (Juglans nigra)